On Monday morning, the Congress Working Committee met at Sonia Gandhi's residence in New Delhi, and announced a timeline for its upcoming internal election, which could herald the elevation of Rahul Gandhi as national party president, bringing to an end his mother's 19-year reign at the top. Following is the full text of the inaugural speech given by Sonia Gandhi on Monday, whereby she welcomed party leaders to the meeting and informed the attendees about the agenda:
I welcome you to this Congress Working Committee. We have before us an important agenda. Over the last 18 months, the election process that has concluded in all but six states has elected block presidents, an equal number of delegates, primary units and party members. This has provided an opportunity for the party to interact with lakhs of workers across the country, starting from the booth level. This reaffirms that the party's roots are spread across every district of the country and that no other political party can match the plurality and diversity of the Congress party.
The electoral process, which began in May 2016, has now come to its culmination. The schedule for the election of the Congress president will be read out by general secretary.
On behalf of the party, I thank the chairman Mullapalli Ramachandran, members of the Central Election Authority, and other party workers for carrying out this huge exercise with utmost diligence, integrity and impartiality.
The Modi government in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India's parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the Winter Session of Parliament on flimsy grounds. The government is mistaken if it thinks that by locking the temple of democracy, it will escape constitutional accountability ahead of the Assembly elections. Parliament is the forum in which questions should be asked — questions about corruption in high places, conflict of interest of serving ministers and dubious defence deals. Government will be obliged to answer these questions, but in order to avoid the questions and answer ahead of Gujarat elections, the government has taken the extraordinary step of not holding a Winter Session when should be held.
The prime minister had the audacity to have a midnight celebration in Parliament to launch an ill-prepared and flawed GST, but today he lacks the courage to face Parliament.
Unemployment, rising inflation, falling exports and GST are causing tremendous suffering to millions of people. A year later, demonetisation has done nothing but rub salt on the wounds of distressed farmers, small traders, housewives and daily workers. The fortunes of a handful are being built by destroying the future of the poor and the oppressed. Yet, the prime minister continues with greater vigor, to make announcements, false promises, and to quote facts and figures that have nothing to do with the reality on the grounds.
The Modi government is also forcefully trying to change the history of modern India by systematically erasing the contributions made by Pandit Nehruji and Indira Gandhi — be it through rewriting school textbooks, through malicious misinformation and propaganda, or ignoring with disdain the importance of the birth centenary of Indiraji. This vilification is blatant and for all to see.
Rahul and many of you colleagues here and in Gujarat are working hard for a positive result in that state. Let us do our best to prove that people are not fooled and that they will make the right decision and defeat the present dispensation there.
Published Date: Nov 20, 2017 13:17 PM | Updated Date: Nov 20, 2017 13:17 PM